Tuesday, December 06, 2022

Trump Threats and Pressure on Republicans in Georgia and Arizona: Key to the Capitol Attack Hearing

Donald Trump’s continued pressure on officials who play key roles in the 2020 presidential election was at the center of a fourth hearing over the attack on Capitol Hill, in which he spoke to election officials from top Republican officials in Arizona and Georgia. Low level influenced by the strategy of the then President’s team.

All three are Republicans and held key positions at the time of the 2020 elections. They all received pressure and/or requests to somehow ‘twist’ the two states (Arizona and Georgia) that Trump lost to Joe Biden and whose results he wanted to reverse.

As such, the committee is showing each session that the attack on Capitol Hill was part of a broader strategy by Trump and his allies to try to reverse the election defeat.

Here are the keys to today’s session:

1- Pressure from Trump and his team in Arizona: “Just do it”

Arizona House Speaker Russell ‘Rusty’ Bowers, a Republican, was questioned about how Trump and his aides pressured him to help him win.

Bowers said during a phone call in late December 2020 that he was pressured to interfere in the election and explicitly told then-President Trump that he would not do “anything illegal” for him.

“I took the oath,” Bowers said, recalling what he told Trump when he asked him.

Eastman told him, “Just do it and let the courts figure it out,” according to Bowers’ account, who clarified that he didn’t use that exact phrase, but “that’s what I wanted to say to him”. Trump’s lawyers were pressuring him to decertify voters.

“I said, ‘Are you asking me to do something that has never been done in history, in the history of the United States, and I am going to submit my kingdom to him without sufficient evidence? .. .No, sir,'” he replied. Bowers to Eastman.

Bowers also said he signaled to Trump that he would not do anything illegal for him and declined to hold a hearing to investigate the possibility of removing Biden voters and replacing them with Trump voters.

He said he rejected requests from Trump and several of his legal advisers, who repeatedly said they had evidence of fraud to reverse the election result, but never gave them.

Bowers testified that Giuliani admitted he had uncovered no evidence of fraud: “We have theories. We don’t have evidence,” Bowers recalled Giuliani said.

Because of Trump’s resistance to pressure, Bowers said that both he and his family staged “disturbing” protests in front of his home and even his close friends who turned against him. He saw armed men in front of his house while he, his wife and his daughter were inside.

“There were video boards in front of my house showing me declaring myself a pedophile, a pervert and a corrupt politician,” Bowers said.

2- Trump calls on Georgia to find “11,000 votes”

Committee chairman Benny Thompson said Tuesday: “A handful of election officials in several key states stood between Donald Trump and the searing change of American democracy.” He was referring to three main witnesses on Tuesday.

Trump’s pressure was driven by false claims of voter fraud, allegedly tampered with counting machines, and other baseless allegations that fell one after another in federal and state courts for lack of evidence or basis.

Georgia’s top election official, Raffensperger, rejected Trump’s request to find enough votes to quash Biden’s victory.

during the call, Trump repeatedly denied the fraud claims and raised the possibility of a “criminal offense” if Georgia officials did not change the vote count. Georgia had counted its votes Earlier three times, a margin of 11,779 proved Biden’s victory.

The hearing comes just weeks after Raiffensperger defeated his Trump-backed rival in last month’s primary election.

In addition to Trump’s “pressure campaign,” then-White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows texted or called Raffensperger at least 18 times after the election, California Representative Adam Schiff revealed.

3- Violence, threats and an employee who became Trump’s ‘target’

Dozens of Republicans at the hearing were chilling accounts of the barrage of attacks faced by local elected officials. That includes a Michigan lawmaker whose personal cell phone number Trump tweeted to millions of his supporters, and another in Pennsylvania, who had to cut his family’s phone line because he was receiving threats all the time.

faced threats and persecution from people across the country, Raffensperger said he did not give in to Trump’s private and public pressure because he felt he was “true to the Constitution.”

Raffensperger testified that both he and his wife received threatening and sexually oriented messages and emails. Despite the threats, he said he just couldn’t leave.

Refuting Trump’s allegations of voter fraud, Riffensperger said, “The numbers don’t lie.”

He said “all allegations” of electoral fraud were investigated and found nothing to support the president’s claims. “We had many complaints and we investigated each one… (Trump) said there were over 66,000 underage voters. But we found there were zero,” he said.

“In their lawsuits they allege 10,315 (people’s votes) are dead. When I wrote my letter to Congress on January 6, we found two dead and after that, we found two more. That’s one, two, three, four. People are… not 10,000, not 5,000,” he said.

Sterling, chief operating officer of Raffensperger, became a notable figure in the post-election counting and double counting of Georgia’s presidential ballots. At one point, Republicans called for a curb on inflammatory rhetoric leading to violence. “Death threats, physical threats, threats – it’s too much, it’s not right,” he said.

“This has to stop,” Gabriel Sterling requested in a 2020 video clip shown at the hearing.

Joining Republican officials, the latest to testify was Wandrea Moss, a former Georgia election worker who, along with her mother, said she faced severe public harassment from Trump aides.

Moss, who had worked for the Fulton County Elections Department since 2012, and her mother, Ruby Freeman, a temporary election worker, filed a defamation suit in December 2021.

Moss claimed that conservative outlet One America News Network (OANN) and Trump’s lawyer Rudolph Giuliani made false allegations that he and his mother participated in voter fraud. The case against OANN is dismissed with a settlement.

Republican Representative Liz Cheney, the panel’s vice president, urged Americans to pay attention to the evidence presented at the hearing: ” Donald Trump didn’t care about threats of violence. He didn’t condemn them, he didn’t make any effort to stop them… It’s a serious matter. We cannot allow America to become a country of conspiracy theories and thug violence.”

While the committee cannot accuse Trump of any crimes, the Justice Department is watching the panel’s work closely. Trump’s actions in Georgia are also the subject of a grand jury investigation, with the district attorney expected to announce the findings this year.

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